In an unpredictable offseason riddled with a global pandemic, a sign of normalcy shined through as the Rutgers women’s basketball team hosted its virtual Media Day on Friday.
The Scarlet Knights are coming off a season where they went 22-9, winning 11 of those games in conference and 14 at home. Rutgers made it to the Big Ten Tournament, where it was eliminated by Indiana in the quarterfinals.
Although the Knights lost in the tournament, they were able to clinch a berth in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament for the second straight year before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) canceled the March tradition.
In preparation for their season, head women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer, who is entering her 50th year of coaching and 26th season as the head coach for Rutgers, spoke to the media about a variety of topics, including the vast array of newcomers as well as returning players.
One of those returnees she talked about was senior guard Arella Guirantes. Guirantes led the team and the conference in scoring last season, and coming into this season she was named the Preseason Big Ten Co-Player of the Year and was selected for the Drysdale Award Watch List for the best shooting guard in the country.
Stringer was asked about how Guirantes could be challenged in order to improve her game.
“She wants to be more consistent in the long ball … she is going to shoot the three-pointer a little bit more than what she has done already," Stringer said.
Following the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament, Guirantes had a choice to make — either to declare for the WNBA draft or come back to the Knights.
Stringer also discussed the impact Guirantes will look to make with her possible future in the WNBA, as several Rutgers alumni have played there. When it comes to Guirantes’s future in the WNBA, Stringer said she “appreciates the fact that (Guirantes) knows that she is going to present and give, to everybody what it means to be a Scarlet Knight."
“I feel like we have a lot of unfinished business," Guirantes said regarding the beginning of this season. When it comes to entering this season, the Knights picked up a win against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament last season, before losing to Indiana in the quarterfinal.
The veteran players, including Guirantes, have been making sure the underclassmen get used to the workload both on and off the court.
“If we would’ve had a bunch of returners come it would’ve been different,” Guirantes said. “We would’ve had a faster pace and we would have got into it faster, but we’re moving slow. It’s a different journey.”
Guihon might have missed her junior season, but her sophomore year with Longwood was a success, where she averaged 9.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Guihon had a career high 28 points against Charleston Southern, as she scored at least 20 points for the second time that season in that game. Guihon also was named to the All-Big South Academic team.
For the rookie class, one of the new faces is freshman forward Chyna Cornwell. Finishing high school with 2,631 points and 2,143 rebounds, Cornwell has benefitted from the help of those who have played on the Banks for longer, allowing her to find her rhythm.
Another student-athlete joining the ranks is freshman guard Diamond Johnson. Before touching the hardwood at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC), Johnson made a name for herself by becoming the first woman to be invited to play in a men’s national All-American game when she was selected for the 24k Showcase at the 2020 Allen Iverson Roundball Classic. She is the number six overall prospect, according to ESPN.
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